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Employee-Organization Linakges: The Psychology Of Commitment, Absenteeism And Turnover

Anil Verma, R. Mowday, L. Porter, R. M. Steers
Published 1985 · Economics

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fair share of the fruits of their labor' (p. 6). However, the discussion is implicitly within the context of capitalist society, in contrast o Vanek's The Participatory Economty (197 1). Moreover, the discussion focuses more on the workplace than on society at large, in contrast to Pateman's Partici~pationan md Denocratic Theorvy (1970). Without going into particular detail on the failures of hierarchically-controlled workplaces, the readings in the book discuss alternative ways to share the control of workplaces. Many of those who turn to this book will not need convincing of the failures and the need for alternatives. Other readers will not be as convinced as the editors and their contributors about the need to create alternative structures. Nonetheless, even these more skeptical readers may profit from the perspectives these examinations of the alternatives bring to light concerning legal structures, ownership, hierarchy, power, and decision maiking in conventional organizations; as well as organizational theory, grassroots movements, quality-of-working-life (QWL) projects, and economic development. The selections from other sources and the articles written originally for this book cover theory, case studies, and essays on the practicability of workplace democracy. The theoretical pieces are classics in this young field by Rothschild-Whitt, Bernstein, Berman, and Ellermlan (a student of Vanek). Even case studies have significant theoretical import. For instance, Kanter, Stein, and Brinkerhoff use a QWL program to develop a theory of co-existing parallel structures to meet goals of productivity and participatory dcemocracy. The case studies are drawn from the widest assortment of organizations. They include worker buyouts of manufacturing facilities, older worker cooperatives (such as San Francisco's refuse collectors and the Pacific northwest's plywood cooperatives), an insurance company, alternative schools, radical legal collectives, worker-owned groceries and small service businesses, and even a feminist illegal abortion collective. Some of the articles about these cases are academically analytical and dispassionate discussions; others are politically rhetorical and journalistic narrations; still others are countercultural criticism and self-criticism. Despite the optimism expressed, the editors and contributors tend to be honest, showing many instances of how workplace democracy in America has not worked well. A few articles, however, are too full of dated syndicalist or anti-establishment rhetoric. Even sympathetic readers may find articles by Benello and Gorz tiresome. (Incidentally, Gorz himself has recently moved away from the faith in workers' control that he expressed in the 1973 piece reprinted in the book.) Some of the articles also show a poor or superficial understanding of' labor movem-nent history and operatiolns. The book evokes the spirit of late 1960s and early 1 970s countercultural radicalism Ibrought into the workplace. Not that the concerns about workplace hierarchy, authority, and equity are passe, it just seems that much of this book neecds updating. As shown by Boyte's The Backyard Revolutihon (1981), Carnoy and Shearer's EconomiC Democrtcy (c1981), and Whyte etal.'s Wo(rker OW11efrshtip andl, Participation (1983), grass-roots participatory economic development a ncl alternatives to corporate control are not '60s ghosts. They are economic, social, and political realities of the 1 980s. Unfortunately, owing perhaps to publishing delays, the articles in this 1982 book tend to date earlier than 1980. In fact, the median date of writing seems to have been 1977-78. Despite these flaws, this is overall a fine collection of pieces documenting the plural contemporary strains of workplace democracy. The book's advocacy of a "third sector" of selfmanaged enterprises may not be to every reacter's liking. Nevertheless, its plresentation of the possibilities, particularly through actual exam-i ples, should stimulate furlther understanding of, if not optimism about, workplace democracy. Arthur Hochner



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